F-16 will make Bulgarian Air Force interoperable with NATO for decades to come
James Robinson: Our package includes training, logistics, support equipment and warfareMonitor News Agency
F-16 Block 70 fighter jets guarantee Bulgaria’s interoperability with NATO air force for decades ahead. This is specified in the stand of the global security and airspace company Lockheed Martin voiced on the occasion of the progress made in the selection procedure of new aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force.
On the eve of Christmas it became clear that the working group comprising the military and politicians considered the bids for purchasing new fighter jets and recommended to start negotiations with the US for the acquisition of F-16. “Bulgaria, which is making progress in F-16 Block 70 acquisition, may be sure that the country will have enhanced and modern fighter jet system which for decades will guarantee interoperability within the framework of configuration of hundreds of aircraft shared by air forces of many NATO states,” explained James Robinson, International Business Development Director for the F-16 Programme at Lockheed Martin.
According to the company, the F-16 Block 70 fighter jet selected by our country boasts most morn technology and is the world’s most capable 4th generation multi-role fighter in service of NATO fighter fleet. The combat capabilities of this aircraft have been flight tested, proven and put to use in the upgraded models of F-16 which are currently in service in Southeast Asia. The aircraft perfectly meets the needs of Bulgaria’s national defence and guarantees that the country’s air force will use the most modern 4th generation fighter jet. “The Bulgarian economy and industry will benefit from the newly established long-term relations with Lockheed Martin,” company representatives are sure.
Robinson added that the name of F-16 will remain the same but the last generation of the fighter jet, Block 70, is a completely different aircraft – part of a comprehensive package that will secure for Bulgaria one of the most modern and reliable aircraft in service of NATO air force in Europe. In his words, the aircraft is equipped with modern warfare as its price is included in the company’s bid. “It will provide much more than ordinary air policing,” Robinson said further.
F-16 Block 70 has multi-purpose Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar based on technology used in F-22 and F-35. This radar can track up to 20 individual targets at a time and has a range of over 160 nautical miles, considerably wider than other 4th generation fighter jets. Apart from that Lockheed Martin has confirmed its commitment to implement the programme which promises economic and industrial benefit to Bulgaria. “The company that has customers in over 50 countries around the world understands the importance of partnership and will work together with the governments of the US and Bulgaria towards identification of capabilities for reducing the costs of F-16 Block 70 as long as the process of fighter jets’ acquisition goes on,” Lockheed Martin reps also said.
“Our F-16 Block 70 bid for Bulgaria includes a complete package offering pilots and ground force training, logistics, support equipment and warfare for all operative needs, which means that there are no any hidden costs whatsoever. Bulgaria will not have to buy any additional warfare via other separate contracts with third countries or buy licenses from governments for the integration and use of the aircraft, which could entail additional expenses and risks in case of other bids,” James Robinson also said.
The company reps reminded that about 700 F-16 aircraft are part of the fighter fleet in ten NATO member states. Last month, Greece confirmed that it would upgrade 84 of the previous generation F-16 fighters to the Viper standard, similar to the new Block 70 aircraft which Bulgaria opted for.